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Health care reform success hinges on 'young invincibles'

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Samantha Ames
In this 2012 file photo, Samantha Ames, 25, of Washington, plays with her French bulldog, Harvey, at her home. In April 2011, she tripped over her mini bulldog and badly injured her left ankle. Ultimately she needed surgery that cost her insurer $30,000. But she considers herself lucky. Only a few months before her accident, Ames had been able to get back on her parents' insurance, thanks to a provision of the health care law that lets young adults keep that coverage until they turn 26. Nationally an estimated 2.5 million young people have gotten insurance as a result.
Jacquelyn Martin/ASSOCIATED PRESS

As health care exchanges roll out Oct. 1, the Obama Administration is on a mission to convince young people to buy health insurance.

In a recent poll by Commonwealth Fund, a supporter of healthcare reform, young adults have already been taking advantage of one of the law's provisions that allows people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26. 

From NBC News:

"Public opinion polls found a partisan divide ... but Republicans and Democrats both took advantage of the young adult provisions," says Commonwealth vice president Sara Collins, who led the study. "In fact, more Republicans than Democrats did."

They found that by last March, 63 percent of young adults identifying as Republicans had enrolled in a parent's health plan in the last 12 months, compared to 45 percent of those who considered themselves Democrats. About 26 percent of the 1,800 adults surveyed said they were Republicans, 28 percent said they were Democrats and the rest either said they were independent, some other party, or did not say...

Overall, 15 million 19-to-25-year-olds, or about half of all Americans this age, are on their parents' health plan, the report says.

For the Obama administration, convincing young people to enroll could be a deal breaker for the success of the law.

To keep premiums as low as possible, the 18-to-35 needs to make up a particular portion of the total signing up for the marketplaces, according to The Washington Post. If 7 million sign up this year, an estimated 2.7 million have to be in that age bracket.

More from the Post:

Polling shows that young adults overwhelmingly want health insurance, and their behavior backs that up. When they're offered health coverage through their jobs, studies show more than 60 percent take it -- which is similar to the take-up rate among older adults. But young adults are less likely to have jobs that offer affordable insurance. "I think people just dramatically underestimate how hard it is for someone who doesn't get health insurance at their job to get health insurance," said Aaron Smith, co-founder of Young Invincibles.

The result is slightly paradoxical: Young adults are the cheapest group to insure but the group most likely to go without insurance. The reason, put simply, is that young adults are likelier than any other group to be poor. Smith calculates that 19 million young adults between 18 and 34 lack health insurance. Under Obamacare, 8 million of them will qualify for free insurance through Medicaid. An additional 9 million will qualify for subsidized insurance in the exchanges.

Smith and researcher Tresa Undem say that young people don't want to be sold something. When they think they're being given a sales pitch, they "shut down" and do not intake necessary information. On The Daily Circuit, we look at the campaigns and strategies that organizations are using to reach out to the young uninsured.

LEARN MORE ABOUT COURTING YOUNG INVINCIBLES:

• Map: State Action to Establish Health Insurance Marketplaces

Use this interactive map to review the status of state action on state health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges. (The Commonwealth Fund)

• Obamacare blitz: Can US persuade young 'invincibles' to buy health coverage?

Even when federal tax-credit subsidies are taken into account, prices may still rise for Millennials, though the new plans would offer much better coverage than what Millennials have now, the study found. Because the penalty for skipping insurance is low - $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater - in 2014, supporters fear young adults will choose pocketbook economics. Younger individuals "are much less likely to find it economically rational to purchase coverage," the authors wrote in the study. (The Christian Science Monitor)

•  Moms Center of $500 Million Ad Blitz Over Obamacare Fate

The marketing blitz from both sides has left some women more confused than informed. Shelley Gross is one of them. From MSNBC to YouTube to Allrecipes.com, Gross and women like her are being targeted by ads designed to sway their opinions. While the self-employed video producer likes that people with pre-existing conditions won't be denied coverage, she worries health care may become more expensive. (Bloomberg)